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'Revenge' Review: 'Engagement'

May 6th, 2013 9:02am EDT | Christopher Monigle By: Christopher Monigle

Revenge

Want a plot twist in a Revenge review, readers? I completely forgot about carrion. There's a real surprise. Your blogger forgot the specifics of the biggest plot device of the second season. I immediately reminded myself of the specifics of Carrion, though the specifics won't matter until next week. Indeed, the specifics of carrion aren't known. Nolan possibly built the software. The Initiative seems to be in control and using it because Manhattan's lights go out. Some nonsense is coming.

"Engagement" has the same old annoying nonsense as always; but since the finale's ahead, there are more surprises than in other episodes such as Takeda's death, which was predictable. Other surprises include the revelation that the current governor's dying; that Conrad's the only man qualified to run the state; that Charlotte's pregnant with Declan's baby; that Emily and Daniel plan to move to Paris in two weeks; that Aiden continues to go rogue, drains the Graysons bank account, and plans to whisk Emily away to a life free of revenge since revenge leaves one empty; that Jack, after being told that Victoria manipulates people, tells Victoria why he went after Conrad. Among the non-surprises of the episode were Emily's and Victoria's dress colors contrasting, Daniel having no idea what's going on (except for this one time when Takeda mailed him Aiden's actual background); that Falcon's riddle involved Street Fighter II; that Emily never stops thinking about revenge and what the Graysons did to her father.

Emily and Victoria were refreshingly aggressive with each other in "Engagement." The passive-aggression of their dialogue took a backseat to Emily going at her directly after Victoria made her usual comments that are really insults. Revenge's second season has been, in a word, distracted. Jennifer Jason Leigh hung around for awhile---that arc distracted Emily from the mission. The premiere put Emily back Japan where she re-learned the mission. Emily played Daniel for a bit, hooked up with Aiden, dealt with the whole Fake Amanda/Porter brothers fallout, which actually involved the Graysons so that was less of a distraction, but, yeah, Emily, and therefore the show, has been distracted. Mike Kelley's right--Revenge needed 13 episodes for a story, not 22. Emily's interactions with Victoria were stock. They made comments to each other, neither blinked, and then they stared at one another. Emily wore a grayish-silvery dress while Victoria wore the color of heart, jet black, at the engagement party. The Fire & Ice party featured color contrasts between the characters. Red represented Emily's revenge. Black represented Victoria's black heart. Emily's change in color represents the slow corrosion of the mission; or, rather, it has been marred with shades of grey (not really).

Besides a poorly written scene, though, Victoria and Emily don't interact. Emily warns Jack about trusting her. Jack ignores her because he's learned to not trust anyone, so he then trusts Victoria with nonsense. The truth about Conrad's meetings with the governor's wife was soapy and nonsensical, but it won't be an ongoing onslaught of adulterous nonsense. Conrad has an easy path to the governor's mansion now that the governor's revealed he's dying. Jack's frustrated and desperate. Victoria preys on desperation. The 'abandoned child' storyline progresses a little with the Falcon's revelation to Nolan about Victoria giving her son, Patrick, $5 million to stay away and have all traces of his original identity wiped. The Falcon warns Nolan he's being played. Nolan reacts in the way he always reacts: he ignores it completely, and then takes it to Emily.

Daniel fires Aiden after learning about Aiden's father's role in the flight bombing. Aiden's lone concern is Emily's love. He's always hated Daniel's involvement in the mission. Aiden's bold moves in the episode are put into action after Takeda outs him to the Graysons. Takeda's true motive remains a mystery since he died. Aiden referred to it, and I rolled my eyes. Aiden enlists Nolan to drain the Graysons bank account. Emily's supposed to leave with him for a life free of revenge. His plan will fail: it'll go as smoothly as me inviting a grizzly bear over for a peaceful meal. I haven't been interested in Accent Guy's purpose for an entire season nor the relationship with Emily.

The best laid plans go to hell once the lights go out throughout New York City and its surrounding boroughs. The Initiative had two faces this season. Neither transformed The Initiative into a captivating villain. Perhaps it is best that the corporation is faceless again. If Burn Gorman couldn't make it work, no one will (unless Mike Kelley got Michael Emerson, which he did not). Takeda intimates the plan will create terror and fear but dies before anything else of substance is uttered. The blackout traps characters. Nolan, Aiden and Emily are together; Declan's with attractive girl; Daniel's with the pregnant Charlotte; and Conrad and Victoria are, regrettably, together, with Jack around. The Jack/Graysons storyline in next week's finale is going to blow. I guarantee it.

There's been a lot of building to The Initiative making their move, and I do not care about their plan. The Initiative’s on-screen presence didn't work, because the entire storyline doesn't work. It's a decent idea in the room--probably--but dragged out for an entire season with a lack of compelling figures, minor character deaths, and what-not, is a chore to watch. The writers tried. They paired Nolan and Padma. Padma only hurt Nolan as a character. Aiden was paired with Emily, but the revelations about his sister fell flat. Some shows course-correct if a particular plot isn't working. Too much story must be tied up in The Initiative, making it impossible to drop mid-season.

So, I'm not looking forward to two hours of The Initiative Doing Things.

Other Thoughts:

-Charlotte's story doesn't make any sense. She gets pregnant, acts like an idiot, and reveals she doesn't want another person being brought into the family. I get that she wanted to get kicked out. Of course, basically nothing in the show makes sense.

-Emily Vancamp played her scene with Jack very effectively. Vancamp's not able to show off her range as Emily Thorne. Thorne is a cold character. Vancamp recalled to my mind Amy Abbott, her character in Everwood, as she filled up talking to Jack about their missed chance. I wanted to hug her.

-Next week's finale is two hours. I couldn't be less excited for it, especially with what I expect will be an awesome Game of Thrones episode.

-Elle Friedman & Sallie Patrick were the credited writers. I missed the director's credit.

Photo Credits: ABC